Teddy Bear News

November 2008 Congressional Update on wilderness bills
Author: teddygirl | Saturday December 20, 2008

The following is from Campaign for Americas Wilderness, an organization that is working to achieve lasting protection for threatened wild lands.

Change has come to Washington, D.C., but the only certainty in the near future is the falling temperature. As we reported in this space last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid intends to bring the Senate back for a special post-election ("lame duck") November session. He hopes to schedule for action Senator Jeff Bingaman's Omnibus Public Lands package, which includes 15 wilderness protection bills totaling nearly 2 million aces.

Whether the House of Representatives will follow suit remains to be seen. Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently said the chamber may reconvene to consider a number of initiatives to address the current economic crisis, but no final decision has been made. A diverse group of 28 House members have formally asked the Speaker to consider the lands package if the House reconvenes. As currently planned the Senate would consider the package during the special session as a Senate amendment to H.R. 5151. Though many of the individual provisions of the package have already passed the House, the package, in its entirety, must be taken up and approved by the House to become law.

The Omnibus Public Lands package includes many important provisions for protecting and preserving America's public lands, cultural values, and local economies. Examples of the valuable bipartisan public land provisions in the bill include the Virginia Ridge and Valley Act sponsored by Senators John Warner (R) and Jim Webb (D), the Owyhee Public Land Management Act sponsored by Senator Michael Crapo (R), the Wild Monongahela Act sponsored by Senator Robert Byrd (D) and Senator John Rockefeller (D), and the Mount Hood Wilderness Act sponsored by Senators Gordon Smith (R) and Ron Wyden (D).

Following is a list of all 15 wilderness bills which would enhance the quality of life, safeguard clean air and watersheds, and provide for hunting, fishing, camping, canoeing, and other popular outdoor activities.

Copper Salmon Wilderness Act (OR)
Wild Monongahela Act (WV)
Virginia Ridge and Valley Wilderness and National Scenic Area Act (VA)
Owyhee Public Lands Management Act of 2008 (ID)
Lewis and Clark Mount Hood Wilderness Act (OR)
Rocky Mountain National Park Wilderness and Indian Peaks Wilderness Expansion Act (CO)
Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Voluntary and Equitable Grazing Conflict Resolution Act (OR)
Beaver Basin Wilderness Act (MI)
Sabinoso Wilderness Act (NM)
Oregon Badlands Wilderness Act of 2008 (OR)
Spring Basin Wilderness Act of 2008 (OR)
Dominguez-Escalante National Conservation Area and Dominguez Canyon Wilderness Area Act (CO)
Eastern Sierra and Northern San Gabriel Wild Heritage Act (CA)
California Desert and Mountain Heritage Act of 2007 (CA)
Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Wilderness Act of 2008 (CA)

For more information, visit Campaign for Americas Wilderness website.

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